Another Myth Buster: The McJob

June 2, 2007


How many times have you heard politicians and pundits say that we are outsourcing all the good paying American jobs to foreigners which are then replaced by new, lower paying jobs at McDonald’s and Walmart. Well, Steve over at The Skeptical Optimist has this great post regarding jobs created over the past year.    From Steve:

I think I’ll keep posting this monthly, now that we are entering a presidential campaign containing a plethora of politicians fond of trying to scare us into thinking we’re exporting high-paying jobs. Reason: The official numbers tell us a much different, more encouraging story. The mix is shifting, that’s true, but we created more jobs (in higher-paying categories) than the jobs that went away.

Gotta love it.


7 Responses to “Another Myth Buster: The McJob”

  1. QuakerJono Says:

    It’s an interesting point, but even his analysis mentions that the job sectors where positions were lost were manufacturing and construction. Manufacturing and construction workers make up a hefty percentage of the total workforce so, while high paying jobs may be added, there is no guarantee that they are accessible to the majority of the workforce, which remains underemployed.

    Speaking as someone who has two degrees, a good work history and ethic, excellent interpersonal and problem solving skills, it is supremely frustrating to hear that the job market is positive. Part of the reason I went into freelance writing was that, after leaving a highly unsatisfying position, I spent eight months going to an endless succession of interviews and discovered that unless you know someone on the inside who actually has some power, those new, higher-paying jobs are always going to be out of your reach. The numbers simply do not tell the complete story.

  2. John in IL Says:

    I think you are missing the point.
    The same workers who lost jobs are not the same workers who got (higher paying) jobs. But, overall, we now have more higher paying jobs.
    Speaking as someone who has two degrees, a good work history and ethic, excellent interpersonal and problem solving skills

    Anecdotal evidence.

    (BTW, when does your pool open?)

  3. QuakerJono Says:

    The pool opens as soon as I manage to get to the pool store. Apparently, if you bring in a sample of the pool water, they have a magical, mystical wizard there who will take the sample, perform some ritual involving doing unspeakable things to a goat, and tell you what chemicals and in what quantities you need to maintain the pool balance. It’s all very modern.

    Perhaps I’m missing the point. I think what I am focusing on in the article is this sentence: With the right skills, one has promising, high-paying job opportunities in this economy. Unfortunately, and yes, one of the ways I came at this understanding is anecdotal evidence, simply possessing the skills to do these jobs successfully isn’t enough. Access is limited by who knows who which makes far more difference in today’s job market than past performance , education or raw ability.

    Not that those don’t make some difference. I’ll admit that, after basically getting forced into a career path I’m not completely sure I like several years ago, I’m leery of going back out into the job market even though it may have changed for individuals like myself that have some or all of the qualifications for specific positions.

    However, looking at the work force as a whole, the continued downtrend of manufacturing and construction jobs is disturbing and dangerous. As I said, a large percentage of our work force relies on those jobs, which are already not as plentiful as they once were. When someone loses a job in this sector, it’s a major struggle to find a new one and without that job, there’s less chance that the subsequent generation of job seekers from that household will move up the educational ladder to get access to the new, higher-paying job strata. Should these displaced workers try and get themselves into these higher paying positions, then they face not only the networking barrier (which, really, is a HUGE barrier at the moment) but in many cases the education barrier as well.

    So I guess my point is that, while it’s perhaps encouraging for workers such as myself that there is job growth in many sectors, it’s a bit narrow-visioned to imply that this job growth is either sufficient or accessible for the majority of U.S. workers and that politicians using the loss of jobs as a campaign point are somehow not playing fair or factually.

  4. John in IL Says:

    I think you are overstating the issue. Manufacturing employment, as a percentage of total employment, is about 11%, not a majority or even a large percentage of the population.

    I do agree that low skilled workers who lose their job have a hard time. But the problem is being low skilled, not a lack of jobs. As I pointed out in a previous post, there are manufacturing employers struggling to fill positions because they can’t find enough people with even basic reading and math skills (now there’s a problem that deserves more attention).

    Access is limited by who knows who which makes far more difference in today’s job market than past performance , education or raw ability.

    I’m sorry, but this idea seems to be based on your personal experiences. Do you have any outside corroboration of this problem? I’m more than willing to look at it.

    Regarding the pool…that’s why I like reading your blog. You make me laugh (along with making me think).

  5. QuakerJono Says:

    I do aim to please. I’m no Kathy Griffin, but I figure if I make 100 jokes, 1 has to be funny. I mean, that’s math and you can’t just argue with math!

  6. jess Says:

    I heard someone that almost half of all graduate students are foreign. I hope that all the high paying, high skilled jobs that we are creating won’t simply go to people we have imported instead of jobs we have exported.

  7. John in IL Says:

    That’s a little over the top. I don’t understand why you would want to discourage motivated, well educated people from moving to this country and finding good paying jobs here? That’s like saying “Go away Einstein, we don’t want you to compete for jobs with <i>our</i> scientists” (see, I can be a drama queen too).

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